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“Feels” is a shorthand for the word “feelings” that is used to describe an intense emotional response, such as sadness, excitement or awe. The term is also commonly associated with the phrase “right in the feels,” which indicates that something has deeply affected the speaker.
The word “feels” was popularized by the Internet slang expression “I know that feel bro”, with the earliest instances rumored to have appeared on the German image board Krautchan in May of 2010. On February 6th, 2012, a user named “Voyack” posted an “ask me anything” (AMA) thread on Reddit, asserting that he was the Krautchan user “Wojak” who created of the meme.
On March 30th, 2012, Urban Dictionary user Alice707 submitted an entry for “feels,” defining it as a shorthand for the word “feelings.” On June 25th, the Cheezburger site Roflfazzi highlighted an image macro featuring an animated GIF from the 2012 super hero action film The Avengers with the caption “Right in the feels” (shown below).
On October 11th, a Facebook page titled “That post hit me right in the feels” was launched, which gained over 2,800 likes in the following eight months. On December 27th, Redditor Super_Pie submitted a post titled “First time being dumped” to the /r/gifs subreddit, featuring an animated GIF of a scene from the 2001 Japanese animated film Spirited Away with the word “feels” captioned over crashing waves (shown below). In the first five months, the post received more than 4,700 up votes and 150 comments.
On May 6th, 2013, YouTuber enjoylifeingeneral uploaded a video titled “The Feels,” featuring a speech directed at an air conditioning unit accompanied by dramatic music (shown below).